Obnoxious Dell Pre-Installs

Time for a rant:  This is one of those things that makes me look at Dell and wonder WTF happened to their vaunted customer service. I blame either a) a McKinsey ("the people who brought you Enron:™ ") -type consultant, or 2) some jackass MBA.

Dell no longer "delights" their customers — at least not this one. They have become a commodity supplier of low cost goods, which are IMO spyware/popup infected.

Seriously, who is the Putz that greenlighted this collection of obnoxious sales pitches?

– Type in a bad address, and instead of Google, you are directed to a Google like page with ads for Dell’s products (see below);

– Print anything, and the default printer utility will launch a sales pitch on toner;

Someone should fire that bastard. Hardly delightful day after day.

Here are the fixes:

To delete the printer pop up, you must uninstall the printer software, and then uncheck a box during the install process. Not only did it take a Dell tech support person an hour to figure that out, but it guaranteed that my next printer will be an HP. (Morons).

The other McKinsey/MBA type abrasiveness is this stupidity below. Mistype an address, or leave any site that auto refreshes (WSJ, TheStreet.com, Briefing), and you get a Dell/Google co-branded sales page.

Go away.

To remove that program, go to the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs. Look for the application named "Browser Address Error Redirector" or it may be called "GoogleAFE". Select "Uninstall."

btw, I do not recall giving permission for that to be installed. (Jerks)

If the sales / marketing people at HP had any smarts, they would be paying attention to these sorts of customer service rants. The shame is, the machine — once the obnoxious-ware was uninstalled — is a reliable screamer. 


This sort of poor customer experience will certainly make me hesitate before  if I order something from Dell again . . .




For prior discussions on this topic, see Consumer Issues and Investors and  Consumer Issues (Feedback)

Hey! Your cranky when your off the meds!

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  1. Nona commented on Mar 29

    Great rant!

    Maybe somebody Who Knows Somebody at H-P AND Dell will do all of us the favor of passing it on.

    We don’t need/want H-P to get infected; we’d like Dell to take notes.

  2. anon commented on Mar 29


    I am probably about 9-12 months away from new PC. I am not sure what to get. I have a Dell for now but who knows in a year.

  3. javasoy commented on Mar 29

    I just helped my mother-in-law to pick out a laptop. Originally I was going to have her to pick out a Dell Laptop, but after what I have gone with with my own Dell D600, I directed her to pick up an HP from a local Best Buy. I also notice that dissatisfaction rate has gone up for Dell, thanks for messages like yours.

  4. Stu commented on Mar 29

    Can’t imagine, an excel black-belt at Apple contaminating the brand experience that way.

    Don’t folks take note from Jobs – the greatest marketer of our lifetime.

    Goal seeking your way to profitability doesn’t work, with consumer businesses.

  5. Bob A commented on Mar 29

    the real question is why the heck do people buy Dell anyway. answer?

    perceived value that just doesn’t exist. same as the perception among apple users that “they’re easier to use”.


  6. katzenfinch commented on Mar 29

    I’ve been using Apple computers since 1986. They work very well. A few of my friends who have PCs can’t use them because they’re crippled by virii. That’s never happened to me.

    Maybe they’re not easier to use — I happen to think they are, but I’m biased. Their interface is more elegant well-designed, though, and to me that counts for something.

  7. MCL commented on Mar 29

    I have been a Dell user for about 12 years now, and I like their PCs because they are reliable and cheaper than other brands. Many years ago, I used to crow about their great customer service. Not any more. I bought two PCs in the last 18 months and their service is terrible. They push hard for you to find the answer in the knowledge base, and when I tried to call, it took me a long time to get through. Worse, they gave me the wrong technical advice which would have cost me extra (told me to get a different video card to run dual monitor).

    Though I can’t stand their service, I am not convinced that I will get better value buying other brands. Anyway, I am still a few years away from replacing my PC.

  8. TP commented on Mar 29

    This is why I went to Apple about 3 years ago. I had three Dell Laptops before moving to Apple and none have the reliability or service record of my PowerBook.

  9. Amur commented on Mar 29

    Hmmm… this kind of krapp is an ABSOLUTE deal breaker for me. Incredibly shortsighted.

    I was thinking of plunking down a chunk for an new Alienware rig. Hope the marketing geniuses at Dell don’t get there hooks into this outfit as well. It would be poison— high end users hate this kind of thing. (For example I haven’t used Realplayer in years and never will…)

  10. Paul commented on Mar 30

    I had a refurbished Precision 330 that dies this month after almost 6 years and I replaced it with a refurbished Precision 470 that’s great – and no crap on it.

    My beef was the process of downloading and reinstalling software. Too many attempts to sign me up for marketing and take over my computer. A few pieces of software had the notice of email marketing several inches below the SUBMIT button for registration.
    Excuse me – what kind of a relationship do you think you’re going to have with me if you trick me into getting your spam?

  11. jjj commented on Mar 30


    a. firefox or opera (you get tabbed browsing to boot!)

    b. why would you separate McKinsey from a jackass MBA? Typically the overlap is quite extensive.

  12. Monty commented on Mar 30

    I used to build computers until Dell built them cheaper than I could. I bought Dell for years. Now, i buy Toshiba, and I am a lot happier. I got my latest Toshiba last month. I wouldn’t consider a Dell anymore.

  13. Richard commented on Mar 30

    Stay away from Dell. I’ve had to send back 2 Dell machines in the past couple of years because they didn’t work and the Indian customer service department were either unintelligible or unable to fix them. Bastards! (Not the Indians, pour souls, the fucking Dell slobs).

  14. Cliff commented on Mar 30

    I find that the best way around this problem is to burn the Windows XP cd and just reinstall Windows XP the moment that you get your computer.

    The XP Cd that Dell’s software allows you to burn once doesn’t have all this crappy software preinstalled on it and gives you a clean install.

    My Toshiba laptop on the other hand uses an imaged restore disk that reinstalls all the crap that I don’t want.

  15. kdawg commented on Mar 30

    It seems that’s the trend nowadays; sell PC’s with a ton of pre-installed software (more like shareware) or integrate the software into the OS. It used to be just a couple of offerings that were pre-installed; now they’re catering to every niche Anti-Virus, Anti-spyware, online services, games, etc…..The whole point is to hook’em on a subscription based service and they’ll stay for a long time. It really preys upon the less tech savvy.

    Dell PC’s are o.k. The cheaper models do use generic computer parts and it’s all you really need if you’re just surfing the web and doing office work. If you can put your own PC together then you can buy top-of-the-line premium parts for about the same price as a Dell PC with generic parts but of course you’re your own tech support.

    Hard to say which mass produced PC will give the best hassle free experience. A Mac if fine if you can live with the limitations. It might be worth a try to get your local PC shop to maybe build one to your specs.

  16. emd commented on Mar 30


    Screw Dell…. ABS computers kick arse…. custom assemble all the best components and don’t load it up with crap you don’t need or want. You can even choose between Intel or AMD chips. I bought one 3 years ago and have been very happy with it.

  17. Matt commented on Mar 30

    I buy the store-brand PCs from Microcenter for one simple reason: They have “clean” installs of the operating system with no marketing garbage attached!
    Don’t buy HP, Sony, Dell, Gateway—anything recognizable, because their operating systems are contaminated with OEM garbage.

    Incidentally, this problem is NEVER going to go away because it’s an easy way to boost the margin–selling space on the hard drive.

    Oh, and Macs do have their fair share of used-car-salesmen tricks to sucker you out of money. They’re just more clever about it.

  18. me commented on Mar 30

    No more Dell’s for me either.

    My brother has a business and I recommended a couple of Dell’s for him. The hard drive on one crapped out after after 6 months. Dell came out and installed the drive and left, the technician had to get to another call that day.

    So he is my brother, running a business, and Dell did not install all the Dell preinstalled software that came with the machine. Software he added, like Acrobat, Dell shouldn’t have to install; but Office and the rest, they should retore the machine to its shipped condition.

    Then I had my sister-in-law get a Dell. They are not techies so I had them buy the dell extra support, like how do I plug this in. They had a problem (not how to plug it in) and called Dell. The Indian they could barely understand switched them from tech support to marketing, to buy the package they already had.

    Then their LCD monitor died.

    My brother also got caught up in the laptop battery fiasco.

    Dell owns up to nothing anymore and the more they move to India, the more they better hope Indians buy from them becuase I will no longer recommend them.

    My mother bought a new computer. I sent her to Best Buy.

    My brother and I both need laptops so we are getting Lenovo.

    If Dell wants to be a commodity, they are doing a good job, espeically by lack of service. And they still don[‘t offer AMD.

  19. Paul II commented on Mar 30

    With crap like that, who won’t consider a Mac when the day comes that you can install and run Windows on a Virtual Machine (window) inside of Mac’s OS?

  20. Chad K commented on Mar 30

    Dell uses just about the cheapest parts you can get… and though most people think they’re reliable, they’re really not much more reliable than any other PC.

    For those of us in the world with the time and desire to build our own computers, there’s the great satisfaction that our warranty is typically longer, the components are vastly superior and we paid about 20-50% less than it would have cost for an even remotely comparable dell… and well, nothing is ever installed that we don’t want installed.

  21. Lymond commented on Mar 30

    5 years or so ago there was no major mfr who could touch Dell for Customer Service. Every PC mag rating for them was tops. Not any more.

    I’ve had quite a few Dell’s for personal and small home business over the last 10 years but no more. Last year after pissing away an entire Sunday afternoon with several of their “techs,” I finally talked my way through the problem using their KB and had the last one I spoke with thank me for having taught her so much!

    I’m starting the transition to Apples. BTW – Never use MSIE unless you absolutely have to. Use Firefox, or even better, Opera. Amazing difference!

  22. Brett commented on Mar 30

    My redirector was saved as MyWay Search Assistant under the Add or Remove Program in Control Panel.

  23. David Silb commented on Mar 30

    (Warning!) I only read the Headline.

    So if I miss the boat on this post I am sorry. But

    I Would NEVER buy a Dell!!! This entry is one of the reasons.

    Good luck to Dell purchasers. I like Systemax more.

  24. Matt commented on Mar 30

    Spot on, Barry. My last purchase from Dell (~8 months ago) left me feeling the same way. I have friends who include a reformat/reinstall as part of their standard operating procedure with new Dells.

    Sadly, the hardware quality doesn’t appear to be there with Dell anymore either. My hard drive is already making chugging/grinding noises and the fans are starting to sound like little jet engines.

  25. Bob C. commented on Mar 30

    The worst part about Dell is the customer service experience. I have a Dell laptop that I bought in 2002 and my CD R/W drive stopped writing CDs intermittently.

    The Dell tech from the Phillipines had me on the phone for 6 hours over 2 days, tried to tell me it was a software driver problem (I have never heard of software not working intermittently). He couldn’t find the drivers I needed, so his solution was to reinstall XP from my original CDs.

    He didn’t care that I have already installed hundreds of security patches and upgraded to Service Pack 2. So now I am stuck with a nonfunctional CD writer.

    The old Dell would have shipped me a new CD R/W drive and drivers no questions asked.

  26. Kurt H. commented on Mar 30

    May I suggest a Lenovo Thinkpad as a Windows alternative? Thus far, Thinkpads have retained the solid quality (and lack of annoying promotion) that attracted me to the product line pre-Lenovo. Plus, based on a recent experience with tech support about an older Thinkpad, support remains outstanding.

  27. Mike G commented on Mar 31

    MBA cost-cutting, corner-cutting crap like this is killing American business.

  28. cavemanus commented on Apr 8

    Barry, DO NOT BUY AN HP!

    They are awful and support is worse than Dell.

    I had to completely rebuild my mom’s HP PC myself because it constantly failed to print, scan, connect to the internet, etc., without crashing. There were multiple conflicts in the way HP put the components together. Phone support was useless. I could go on, but ou get the point.

  29. smiley commented on Apr 8

    Hi Barry.

    Never owned a Dell but a friend of mine said the first thing he did when he got one was remove all the Google 36 year cookies, toolbars etc. All the stuff those smarty pants use to build databases about surfer behavior with. Funny how people who are actually in the trenches of ecom dont trust Google.

    http://merijn.org/downloads.html Is a list of very handy tools to cleanup your PC. HijackThis is one I’ve used before. Be careful with these tools. Visit the forums ( http://merijn.org/forums.html ) and get help if you dont know what you’re doing but I guarantee you’ll be amazed at how much BS your computer is plugged up with. Do us all a favor and clean up your computer, especially bots, trojans etc.

    For all you boneheads who can’t get off the IE titty you might want to visit http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm Be careful with this as well but it will block all those pesty ads.

    For anyone using FireFox I would suggest an extension called Adblock. Add ” *.googlesyndication.com* ” and it will prevent all the pesty javascript ads from Google loading up. BTW everytime your computer requests that js from google they know where you are. I’m not a lab rat and neither are you.

    Last but not least another essential extension for Firefox is NoScript, which blocks all execution of javascript unless you say so. After initial set up period you wont even notice it’s there unless you visit a site that you need to enable js for popups or navigation. Everybody and their brother is a control freak anymore and they want to know everything about you. *uckem. They can sell data about their own online habits. I’m not a lab rat and neither are you.

  30. tim eagen commented on Apr 10

    Can’t believe it took you guys so long!!
    I think this started with the “it’s a dell dude” marketing. All the engineers must be smoking….

    Three years ago after an unbelieveable lack of “customer service” experience over a 3 month period from Dell.
    As a result:
    1. Sold all my dell stock
    2. Bought 2 hp’s (with the “inferior AMD” chip LOL)
    3. Bought AMD stock(too bad dell shareholders)
    4. Told anyone that would listen: Make sure it NOT
    “a dell dude”.
    Dell was at one time a leading supplier of computers. Of course GM also was a leading supplier of autos.

    Remembe what BD sang in the 60’s “the times they are a changing”.

    PS. to Mike Dell.


  31. jack lazard commented on May 23

    Barry: Best to check out Lenovo. Anything else would be uncivilized.

  32. Lilly commented on Oct 26

    I wil like unistall ,remove those add from GATEWAY lap top, they pop when i send a opinion on UNIVISION foros, i’m sick and tiered of it!
    i did owe a toshiba lap top and never had that problem.
    could you let me know how to do it please?

    ciao ! Lilly

  33. Sorensen commented on Nov 20

    Just FYI: The “Browser Address Error” application is now called URLAssist by Dell

  34. Anonymous coward commented on Nov 22

    open “IE”

    and click on “Tools”

    “Internet Options” then

    click the “Programs” tab

    Next click on “Manage Add-Ons” (give it a sec to load)

    Disable this “CBrowserHelperObject”

    In the file column it shows up as “BAE.dll”

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